Friday, January 4, 2013

Movies in 2012

I didn't get to many movies this year, but of the ones I saw I think the following were the most noteworthy. Opinions will vary on such things, of course, but here are some of mine:

The Dark Knight - The theme of good versus evil made this a special movie, but another theme that I found intriguing was the portrayal of Bane and his minions. They were, in fact, Occupy Wall Streeters with the power to fulfill their desire to destroy capitalism and the rich. That may seem a little strong, but listen to Bane's speech and ask yourself if it doesn't sound like it might have been given by any committed OWSer.

2016: Obama's America - Perhaps the most underrated but most important documentary of the last couple of years. It was underrated because, I suspect, those who write about movies were averse to its message, and it was important precisely because of its message. It argues that all of the influential people in Barack Obama's formative years were people who despised the United States and wished to make it into a Marxist/Socialist state. It was certainly unnerving to think that he's the product of such mentors.

Atlas Shrugged Pt. II - Another underrated film whose message is important. It portrays an America in which those who carry the country on their backs, the creative entrepreneurs, are taxed and regulated to the point where they simply decide to quit. In other words, these Atlases are the victims of the same sort of people who have exerted monopolistic influence on our president and who, given the opportunity, would do to America what Bane tries to do to Gotham.

Taken 2 - A sequel to the film in which Liam Neeson tracks down the kidnappers of his daughter. The family of those who ran afoul of Neeson's "special set of skills" in the first Taken seek revenge against him in the follow-up with consequences for them similar to those suffered by their brethren in the first movie. It's gratuitously violent, of course, but I'm a sucker for stories about fathers rescuing their wives and children from evil men and dispensing condign justice to said evildoers. Maybe the popularity of such films is due to the fact that so many people are frustrated that real evil rarely, if ever, receives genuine justice in this life.

Lincoln - My vote for best movie of the year. Daniel Day Lewis gives us a wonderful portrayal of Lincoln, and Steven Spielberg doesn't shy from showing the seamy side of politics and politicians. Tommy Lee Jones also turns in a superb performance as Thaddeus Stevens. If you can only see one movie in the next few months this is the one you should see.

Skyfall - It's James Bond, but not the insoucient Bond of Sean Connery and Roger Moore. Daniel Craig's Bond is more of a brooding, melancholy, almost psychopathic sort of guy. The most interesting character in the movie, I thought, was the antagonist Raoul Silva played by Javier Bardem, whom I first saw in No Country for Old Men in which he played Anton Chigurh, who was unquestionably a psychopath.

Les Miserables - Hugh Jackman was outstanding in the role of Jean Val Jean, but after a while I got a little weary of all the singing. Almost all of the dialogue was sung and although some of it was very good (Anne Hathaway's Fantine, for example) some of it was not so much (Russel Crowe's Javert, for example). The music was much better, in my opinion, in the play, and the story was better told in the 1978 made for tv version (Anthony Perkins set the standard to which all Javerts must be compared). Of course, as is always the case, nothing is as good as the book which I thought was a work of genius when I read it. One other thought: When people talk about the terrible plight of the American poor they should be urged to watch Les Mis to see what real poverty looks like. Nobody in America has to live in anything near the conditions most Europeans (and Americans, for that matter) lived in until the latter part of the 19th century when capitalist entrepreneurialism created jobs and wealth for everyone who wanted one.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - It was good, I guess, but it took too long to get into the story, and once it did it was too much like watching Lord of the Rings all over again. Moreover, LOR had a certain plausibility to it that The Hobbit lacks. Even so, I enjoyed it, for the most part, and I look forward to the next installments, although I probably won't spend the money to watch it in 3D again.